Easter is coming. That’s a time many people choose to attend church. Start planning now for your church outreach and growth to attract and retain new members.
The most important thing to know about church marketing:
1. To attract new members, focus on your existing members. Meet their needs and turn them into “Brand Fans” who naturally share positive word-of mouth about your church to others. Most people come to a new church because of a personal invitation.
2. Remember to market/promote your Children’s Ministry programs. Many people don’t attend church until they have young children and then they are looking for the church that has a great children’s program and a service and people they’ll enjoy too.
Know this: Most “mass marketing” approaches don’t work well for church outreach and marketing. They take a lot of time and money and have a low response rate generally of 1%. It seems easy to run an ad but how many people are going to come to a new church because they saw an ad? Not many. This may be effective in reaching “Easter and Christmas people” who are looking for a church service to attend but it doesn’t work well to attract serious seekers.
3. Encourage members to regularly invite others. Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men…”
Most people come to church for the first time because they were invited by someone they know. And most people who don’t come to church say “We were never invited.” Most churches don’t consistently train their members to invite others throughout the year.
12 ideas for church outreach and growth…
1. Can the Pastors talk about this every week as a part of the service? It can be just a quick reminder by saying something like, “Many of you are here because a friend, co-worker or neighbor invited you. Who are you going to invite to church next week? Pick up some cards in the back to hand out to people you know and meet.” Most churches do this only at Easter and Christmas. Do it year-round!
2. Create 2-sided or folded business cards that are like mini ads for your church. Include your website address, service times, a map with your address, phone number and a list of your ministry programs. Hand these cards out at services, at trade shows or events and give them to people to use to invite people. Do this all year-long and really make these cards handy to give out before Christmas and Easter services.
3. Include a reminder to invite people to services and church programs in all the church email newsletters. Highlight people who’ve done this with a link to their video telling their story and introducing the people they invited. The key is to consistently remind and recognize people who invite others so that it becomes natural for more and more people to do this.
4. Print up the best sermons for not-yet-believers and make the printed notes available for people to share with others.
5. Host events that are comfortable for non-believers or newcomers to attend and for your members to invite people to like softball games, Harvest Festivals, musical performances, movie nights, live theater events at the church, family game nights, craft night. Most people are looking for something fun to do on Friday and Saturday night. What can you offer that are social events
6. Mystery shopping. By hiring a consulting group that specializes in mystery shopping (ideally for churches,) you’ll get an honest assessment of what the newcomer is like. You can also do this by engaging Christians who go to another church to visit. Be sure to assess what it’s like for a family coming with a baby, elementary-aged student, middle-schooler and high schooler.
7. Share relevant benefits of why someone should visit your church. Most churches all promote the same things (their service times, their children’s program, their music and relevant messages). Instead of sharing “We have this, we have that” tell people in your ads, website, brochures and email newsletters what benefits they’ll receive by giving up their Sunday morning to come to your church. Speak to their interests, appeal to their emotions and tell them how what you have to offer can help them get what they want (a better marriage, stronger kids, closer friendships, acceptance, a community, a sense of meaning and purpose.) In marketing that’s called positioning.
8. Avoid “Christianese” (jargon and language that only Christians will understand). Use the words and terms people use to make them feel comfortable.
9. Get more referrals! Are you asking your members to refer and recommend their church to their friends, co-workers, neighbors?
10. Set up a separate welcome station for new families who are bringing children. Assign volunteers to welcome these families and make sure their child(ren) are introduced and assimilated. Reassure the parents that their baby or young child will be well cared for so they can go and enjoy “big church.” Make sure the teacher(s) know the child is new and that they are trained on how to connect them to other kids and make them feel comfortable and welcome. It’s scary for most kids to go to a new church and many times they’re doing this after they’ve moved and are also going to a new school.
11. Don’t make newcomers uncomfortable. They are there to “see what it’s like.” Don’t make them feel uncomfortable by asking them to stand up or do something to call attention to themselves. There’s great wisdom in Jason Grey’s song, “More Like Falling in Love.” See the YouTube video of Jason singing that song for inspiration in how to love people into God’s Kingdom.
12. Set up a welcome station with people there who have the gift of hospitality. Anyone who comes up to this station wants to get connected! Help them assimilate.
Follow up! Someone has taken the risk to come to your church and fill out a welcome card. Instead of mailing an expensive packet of brochures, have someone call them and get to know them. Then invite them to stop by the welcome station or visit the website to learn more. But don’t just make one call. A call several weeks later will be really helpful because that’s when a newcomer is most likely to want to know more about the church and how to plug-in, not after their first visit.
More ideas for church marketing and outreach from MarketingZone